Exploring Canterbury, Marlborough and Nelson

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Exploring Canterbury, Marlborough and Nelson

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Are you on the way to or from the ferry in Picton? Looking for a weekend getaway or just looking for something to do on your next stay in these regions? Below we have listed our favorite places to visit and things to do between Christchurch and Picton.


You can access Kaikoura from the south side via SH1 or SH70. If you live near Christchurch this is the perfect weekend getaway or if you are travelling around make sure to spend a few days in Kaikoura. It is one of New Zealand's best places to explore marine wildlife. Kaikoura's coastal waters are home to many different marine mammals and birds. You can find different species of Whales in the area at different times of the year, but most of the year you can see Sperm Whales which share this part of the ocean with dusky dolphins, fur seals and albatross amongst others. At certain times you can also spot the rare hector's dolphins, humpback whales and orca.

There are several tours and experiences to choose from:

Or if you enjoy going for walks or a tramp here are some of our favourite choices:

Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway - This is a great walk to observe seals and sea birds. The whole walk takes 3 hours but you can also only walk to Point Kean viewpoint which only takes 5min from the carpark. Read more here

Mt Fyffe - If you enjoy climbing up mountains and being rewarded by amazing views, this is for you! It takes about 8hrs return to reach the summit of Mt Fyffe (1602m) and back. Read more here

Stay at: Kaikoura TOP 10 Holiday Park

 Wake up to a mountain view at Kaikoura TOP 10 Holiday Park

 View from the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs is nestled between mountains and forests and is well known for its thermal pools and spa. It is a just under 2 hour drive from Christchurch and the perfect place to escape to for a few relaxing days. Relax in the thermal pools or get a massage at the spa and end your day at one of the great restaurants. Or if you rather prefer adventure, Hanmer Springs offers many adrenaline activities such as jet boating, rafting and bungy jumping as well as fantastic mountain biking and hiking.

Top things to do here are:

  • Thermal Pools and Spa - with a TOP 10 Club membership you get a same day return pass on single entry.
  • Mountain Biking - with a TOP 10 Club membership you get 10% off Mountain Bike hire at Hanmer Springs TOP 10 and 10% off Mountain Bike hire and 10% off 2.5 hour Quad Biking Tours at Hanmer Springs Adventure Centre.
  • Walks - Hanmer Springs forest offers many great walks such as the Conical Hill Walk.
  • Hiking - Mt Isobel offers great views and takes about 6 hours return. 
  • Adrenaline - From jet boating, bungy jumping to quad biking there are many exciting activities to choose from. With a TOP 10 Club Card you get 10% off Jet boating

Stay at: Hanmer Springs TOP 10 Holiday Park

 Entrance of Hanmer Springs TOP 10 Holiday Park

 Relax in the pools


Nelson is the oldest city in the South Island and the second oldest in New Zealand. Things to do here include:

  • WOW the World of Wearable Art & Classic Car museum: View the amazing “Wearable Art” in the form of creative and inspired costumes from designers around the world. Check out the Classic Cars, lovingly restored beauties from a bygone era that are shown in “Show Room” quality.
  • Happy Valley Adventures: This thrilling “All Family” adventure park is just 15 minutes drive from Nelson. Spend the day on the amazing Skywire the worlds longest flying fox, the 4 wheel quad bikes, horse treks, Argo (an all terrain ve-hicle) & shoot ’em up fun on the paint ball course.
  • Brewery Visits: Nelson is the only area in New Zealand where hops are grown commercially so check out a few of the local boutique breweries offering a range of flavours. Breweries include – Founders Park, The 3 Sprig and Fern, Nelson Bays Brewery, Harringtons in Richmond (famous for their dark ale called “Wobbly Boot”), the Golden Bear in Mapua, or Monkey Wizard in Motueka. With the TOP 10 Club Card you get $5 off on Wine or Brewery Tours with Bay Tours, Nelson when booked directly with Nelson City TOP 10 Holiday Park.

Stay at: Nelson City TOP 10 Holiday Park

 Powered sites at Nelson City TOP 10


Marlborough’s second-largest town with a population of approximately 4500 people, Picton is located in an impressive setting in upper Queen Charlotte Sound, in the inlet known as Picton Harbour. Picton is steeped in history, starting with early Maori and followed by Captain Cook who visited Queen Charlotte Sound on his great explorations. The early whaling days, gold mining, fishing, port and tourism industries have all enriched the town with fascinating stories and historic sites.

Visitors will find it a fantastic base for exploring the Marlborough Sounds that make up one-fifth of New Zealand’s entire coastline. The country's most popular waterways for boating and kayaking, the Sounds are most famous for the Queen Charlotte Track that runs almost the entire length of New Zealand’s Queen Charlotte Sound. 

Plus, with the TOP 10 Club Card you get 10% off on all trips to Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary and day walks on the Queen Charlotte Track if booked and paid direct with Cougar Line, Picton.

Stay at: Picton TOP 10 Holiday Par

 View from Picton Harbour towards Marlborough Sounds